Luke 10 - Missions Sunday
Welcome to Missions Sunday Community Church,
Let me begin by acknowledging that Community Church loves to give to missions. 31 percent of our yearly operating budget goes to missions: locally, nationally and around the world. Next year we will be sending out almost $57,500.00 to missions related ministries and individuals. This is wonderful! And what is even better is that it is the heart of this church to continue to give even more towards good gospel focused, Christ exalting and Scripture loving ministries in the future.
Having said this, can I just say that this is the easiest part that we can do towards missions. It is easy to transfer money from one bank to another and to only support a missionary in this way. It is appreciated by the missionary but what they need, and what they desire even more, is that churches would support them by fervent prayer and through encouragement, fellowship and friendship. Glenn Hershberger who was a missionary in a foreign land said this weekend that he valued these things more than anything because doing missions work is hard on the pastor and his family and without it they could not do it.
Today, we are here to spend some time connecting with a portion of the ministers and ministries that we support as a church. We are also going to challenge you to take a next step in your support. We want to challenge you to commit to praying and connecting with some of our missionaries for the year. We want you to adopt them like you would a Compassion Child. Call them, text them, send them things, pray for them.
We want to not only be challenged as individuals but as a corporate body to consider what our next step is for us together. We are always supporting lots of church plants but is the Lord calling us to pray about starting a church through Community Church into a neighboring community? Are there future ministers and missionaries in this church who will be raised up and sent out from within our fellowship? Oh, I pray that this will happen more and more.
The text that I would like to look at today as we get started is in Luke 10. I only have time to touch on a couple of points. First, look at Luke 10:1. It says, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go.”
Let me make a couple quick points. First, consider the opening words, ‘After this…’. Something has just happened to Jesus before He decides to pick seventy-two of His disciples and send them out. I wonder if something great has happened that has inspired Jesus to do this?
No, actually something potentially discouraging and deflating has happened. In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus has interacted with three individuals about following Him and it does not appear to have gone well. Two of the three individuals approach Jesus and show some desire to follow Him. But one of the guys does not seem to really appreciate how difficult this will be for him. Jesus has to give Him a dose of reality by saying, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
The other individual wants to go and say good-bye to his family. Jesus says to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The third individual is approached by Jesus and he is invited to follow Christ. This man seems to want to come but he wants to return home to bury his dad. To this man Jesus says, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Now, in all fairness, the text does not tell us if these people followed after Jesus or not. Wouldn’t it be great if they did? Yet, part of me thinks that they did not. I conclude this because of Luke 10:2 which says, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest field.” The disciples probably now have two motivations to pray earnestly. First, they see how impossible it is for people to follow Christ without the Lord of the Harvest doing it. They need spiritual power so they need to pray. Secondly, they are motivated because they have heard Jesus say that the harvest is plentiful. Jesus will tell them that ministry will be difficult but it will be empowered by God.
The harvest is vast but the laborers are few. The harvest is ready but so many have a responsibility that holds them back. The harvest is ready but everyone has their own plan for their life. The harvest is ready but so few appreciate the toil, work, the labor, the inconvenience that it will necessitate so they won’t last long in the mission. The harvest is great but few overcome the fear in them. The harvest is great but everyone reserves the right to have an out when the going gets tough. The harvest is ripe but so many have an excuse to not follow Jesus in His mission. The harvest is plentiful but we have to begin with prayer.
I don’t know if these men followed Jesus or not. But let’s be real for a moment and admit that so few will follow him today for the same reasons these men had. So many are inspired in a moment to follow Jesus but when they return home, return to their friends, return to their routine they are never seen again.
I want you to notice Luke 10:1 again, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go.”
Right after these conversations with these men Jesus does something amazing. He gathers seventy-two disciples and sends them out. Ministry will go on with or without these people. If these discussions did not go well, and these men did not follow Jesus, we see here that Jesus did not draw back on ministry; rather He expanded it. Jesus will use those who are willing and ready.
Now some might look at these seventy-two individuals and say, “Jesus doesn’t need me!” Or they may say, “There is no place for me to serve here.” Or they may say, “There are so many other gifted people in that group that Jesus couldn’t possibly use me.” In this way, these excuses are no different than those we heard in Luke 9:57-62. They are things that we tell ourselves that will quite possibly keep us from following Christ.
Far from not being needed, the opposite may be true. Consider something with me for a moment. What if Jesus could have done more if he had more? Jesus picked these seventy-two disciples and sent them out to all the towns that He would be going. But what if he had more people willing to be sent and go? Would Jesus send them to more towns, to more villages, to more places?
One thing is for sure, Jesus knew that the harvest was plentiful. And He knew that the laborers were few. J